By Carlena Knight
“Judge them fairly”, remarked Director of Education Clare Browne during the local Caribbean Examinations Council (CXC) press conference on Thursday evening.
Browne’s comments stem from the latest results for both Caribbean Advanced Proficiency Examination (CAPE) and the Caribbean Secondary Education Certificate (CSEC) students who sat this year’s exams.
According to the statistics, there was a 73.9 percentage overall for CSEC passes compared to 75.2 last year, and 77.1 percent in 2019, while for CAPE, there was a 77.8 percentage as compared to last year’s 83.8.
There were 21.2 percent passes for CSEC students who passed five or more subjects including Mathematics and English A. This was a drop from last year which saw 31.7, and in 2019 which showed 32.6 percent.
Meanwhile for English A, there were 71.2 percentage passes, a drop from last year which saw 83.8 percent, and 84 percent in 2019.
In Additional Math, the pass rate was 50 percent; Agriculture Science 87.2 percent; Biology 82 percent; Caribbean History 76.3 percent; Chemistry 69.7 percent; Economics 66.3 percent; English B 70.5 percent; French 59.9 percent; Geography 61.7 percent; Information Technology 89.6 percent; Integrated Science 79.3 percent; Music 82.7 percent; Office Administration 84.3; Physics 67.9 percent; Principles of Accounts 78.2 percent; and Principles of Business 90.6 percent;
Meanwhile, Social Studies passes were 63.2 percent; Spanish 62.4 percent; Creative Arts 97.7 percent; Visual Arts 86.7 percent; EDPM 91.2 percent; PE 98.9 percent; Human and Social Biology 82.3 percent; Family and Resource Management 88 percent; Textiles Clothing and Fashion 86.7 percent; Food Nutrition and Health 93.8 percent; Technical Drawing 63.9 percent; Industrial Technology Building 90.5 percent; Industrial Technology Mechanical 96.9 percent; and Industrial Technology Electrical 81.8 percent.
A commendable figure, according to the local CXC Registrar Myrick Smith, who revealed that there “was an increase in the percentage passes in 18 of the 33 subject areas”.
In Mathematics, there were 29.5 percent passes, a drop from last year’s 44.5 and 2019’s 40 percent. Even for CAPE students taking either Accounts, Pure, Integrated or Applied Mathematics.
But despite that concerning figure, Director of Education had nothing but commendations for the students and teachers.
Browne mentioned that the children should be applauded for their efforts, especially since “they have been impacted since fourth form by the pandemic”.
“Let’s not forget that CXC preparation begins at the fourth year. The persons who wrote CXC this year in 2021 would have been impacted by the pandemic since their 4th year, and when you think about it our children have been in and out of schools. So, if you look at the students this year, they have been in school for half the number of days as students previous to the pandemic and so, when you judge them, you have to judge them against that backdrop, that they flew against the wind but yet they were able to perform.”
His sentiments were echoed by Education Minister Daryll Matthew.
“The CXC results for this year really played out in a predictable way. The students who sat their exams this year would be those students who had undergone almost a full two years of Covid-19, a continuing disruption to their schooling, the struggle to get devices, the struggle to have adequate internet in many of their homes, particularly for those students who attend the public schools, so it was expected. Notwithstanding that, I think the students ought to be commended because despite the most troubling of circumstances, despite the most difficult of times the overall results are not tremendously far off from where they were previously and I believe it says a lot about the resilience of our young people,” Matthew said.
Both men also thanked the teachers and parents for their support.
Nevertheless, the top education official did aadmit that the mathematic statistics was alarming and is something that has and will continue to be addressed.
Matthew mentioned that this issue of percentage passes in math is not a new issue, and one that is also plaguing the region. He added that it cannot be fixed with a simple solution.
Both Browne and Matthew, however, shared their optimism that these subject areas including math will improve in the coming years as face-to-face learning may more than likely return on a consistent basis.
Smith solidified that notion by mentioning that before the pandemic there was in fact an upward trend in passes for that subject.
A total of 1,275 candidates sat the CSEC exams while 559 wrote CAPE. A significant drop from last year which saw 1427 candidates for CSEC and 577 for CAPE.